California Rejects Six-State Colorado River Plan, Proposes Its Own

State officials claim a proposal agreed upon by the other six states using Colorado River water disproportionately impacts California farmers.

2 minute read

February 1, 2023, 10:59 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Water SUpply

Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock

Reporting for the Los Angeles Times, Ian James outlines California’s alternate proposal for managing the Colorado River’s dwindling water resources. “The state put forward its proposal a day after Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming released their alternative.”

California officials claim the state’s “high-priority senior water rights dating back more than a century” must be protected under any new agreement. According to California’s natural resources secretary Wade Crowfoot, “The six-state proposal directly and disproportionately impacts California.” Much of the Colorado River’s Southern California allocations go to the region’s vast farmlands. Per the six-state plan, “A large portion of the cuts they proposed would be made by accounting for evaporation and other water losses along the lower portion of the river — a calculation that would translate into especially large reductions for California, which uses more Colorado River water than any other state.”

As James explains, “The state’s proposal builds on a previous commitment by four Southern California water agencies to cut water use by 400,000 acre-feet per year, a reduction of about 9%, through 2026. The federal government has asked the states to reduce their total usage by 2 to 4 million acre-feet.” California officials call the proposal “a realistic and implementable framework to address reduced inflows and declining reservoir elevations by building on voluntary agreements and past collaborative efforts in order to minimize the risk of legal challenge or implementation delay.” As the states continue to debate, federal officials plan to finalize an agreement this summer.

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